Rick Salomon loses $2.8 million court challenge

Rick Salomon Scoops $928K Pot on ‘Poker After Dark’

If you play poker cash games in France you may want to make sure you get your winnings right away.

If not, you could end up like American poker pro Rick Salomon, who is out $2.8 million following a French court decision released earlier this week.

Salomon sued Saudi sheikh Raad al-Khereiji in French court over a private poker game the two played at the Tiara Miramar Beach hotel near Cannes in 2014. According to Salomon, the sheikh owed him $2.8 million after a lengthy losing streak in the game.

The sheikh told Salomon that his lawyer would contact him to arrange payment of the money. Seven months later the lawyer notified Salomon that no payment would be coming as the sheikh believed the game was “a friendly part with no financial stake.”

The case went to trial in France in October and verdict was delivered earlier this week in the sheikh’s favor. The reason for the ruling was a bit odd. It depended on an old French law from 1804.

Under that law, legal action for a gambling debt and payment of that debt would be granted only if the debt was accrued in “games involving weapons, foot or horse racing, chariot races, tennis and other games of the sort which involves physical skill and exercise.”

Throughout the trial the sheikh’s lawyer argued that poker was a game of chance and not of “physical skill or exercise.” Under this argument even if there was a debt (which the sheiks’ lawyer also contested), it could not legally be pursued under French law.

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Following the ruling Salomon and his legal team said they may consider an appeal to the French Court of Cassation, which is the country’s highest court.

Two matters from the lawsuit did go in Salomon’s favor. The court rejected a request that Salomon pay the sheikh’s legal fees for the matter.

It also allowed the use of gambling record from Las Vegas casinos that showed the sheikh was an avid gambler and frequented several high-stake poker rooms where he lost in excess of $39 million.

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